Catalogue


Cleopatra : a biography /
Duane W. Roller.
edition
Oxford University Press Pbk. ed.
imprint
Oxford, UK ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
description
xi, 252 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0199829969 (pbk.), 9780199829965 (pbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
series title
series title
imprint
Oxford, UK ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2011.
isbn
0199829969 (pbk.)
9780199829965 (pbk.)
catalogue key
8210288
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [219]-229) and indexes.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Duane W. Roller is Professor Emeritus of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-12-01:
Two thousand years after she lived, historical fascination with Egypt's last reigning queen is as strong as ever. This contribution to the crowded shelf of Cleopatra studies bypasses the romantic mythologizing of later generations in order to focus on contemporary literary accounts and the historical environment of the first century BCE. Egyptian, Greek, and Latin documents preserve contrasting views of this wealthy east Mediterranean kingdom and of Cleopatra's efforts to negotiate its independence in the face of Rome's steady advance. The author's emphasis on narrative presents few surprises but provides a fresh context for understanding the bureaucratic structure and operation of the late Egyptian state. Useful appendixes include a time line of Cleopatra's life, genealogy, ancient descriptions, iconography, and debates on her Roman citizenship and mother's identity. While readers interested in wider issues of gender roles, cultural competition, and postclassical reception will also want to read books like Joyce Tyldesley's Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt (CH, Aug'09, 46-6966), this new political biography provides an exceptionally thorough, balanced survey of the historical foundations on which later accounts are based. Cleopatra emerges as far more accomplished than the lens of Roman history willingly admits. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. S. Langdon University of Missouri--Columbia
Appeared in Library Journal on 2010-02-01:
The end of the Roman Republic has inspired a lot of good recent biographies, but did we really need another scholarly life of Cleopatra after Joyce Tyldesley's Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt (2008)? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. While Tyldesley probed deeply into Ptolemy family history and iconography, classicist Roller (Greek & Latin, emeritus, Ohio St. Univ.) focuses on Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.E.) as a ruthless and learned queen in a time when female rulers were practically unknown. The first of the Ptolemys to speak Egyptian (the family was Greek in origin), Cleopatra used her many languages to help her achieve her goals of holding on to her throne and restoring to Egypt territory lost by her ancestors. Her shrewd liaisons and childbearing with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius supported her on her throne for 20 years as Roman dominance of the Mediterranean world grew. But there were limits to what a proud queen would do to survive. "I will not be led in triumph," she told her conqueror Augustus Caesar. Then she killed herself. VERDICT Cleopatra reclaims her stature as a significant monarch of her era in this unsentimental corrective to the romantic legend. Recommended for all who study her era.-Stewart Desmond, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2010-02-22:
In the first volume of Oxford's series Women in Antiquity, historian and archeologist Roller (Through the Pillars of Herakles), professor emeritus at Ohio State University, debunks the myth of Cleopatra (69-30 B.C.E.), offering a straightforward, reader-friendly biography of this intriguing and powerful ruler. Drawing on ancient sources, he portrays not a seductress who used her charm to blind men to their better judgment but a powerful naval commander during the Battle of Actium and a savvy royal administrator, "who skillfully managed her kingdom in the face of a deteriorating political situation" and Rome's increasingly intrusive presence. Roller also reveals her for the first time as an author-of Cosmetics, a medical and pharmacological treatise for such conditions as hair loss and dandruff. Tracing her life from her birth and her extensive education as a young girl to her ascension to the throne in 51 B.C.E., her consolidation of the Egyptian empire, and her strategic alliances with Rome, Roller provides a definitive account of a queen of remarkable strength (she compared herself to Alexander) who was a leader of her people. 18 b&w illus. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A rich account of late Ptolemaic culture." --The New Yorker
"Besides providing a compelling story and breathing fresh air into a heretofore two-dimensional caricature from history, Roller's 'Cleopatra' provides an interesting commentary on the attitudes still prevalent towards women who rule." --Christian Science Monitor
"Offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of the (remarkably vigorous) intellectual life of Cleopatra's Alexandria and the structural instabilities of the late Ptolemaic state." --Times Literary Supplement
"Offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of the (remarkably vigorous) intellectual life of Cleopatra's Alexandria and the structural instabilities of the late Ptolemaic state." --Times Literary Supplement "A rich, comprehensive portrait of Cleopatra in her many dimensions--skilled orator, medical writer, linguist, naval commander, administrator, accomplished diplomat. Using only data from the ancient world itself, Duane Roller deftly disentangles the historical queen of Egypt from her later legendary selves. The real Cleopatra emerges in all her many-sided splendor, with some surprises for us all."--Margaret George, author ofThe Memoirs of CleopatraandHelen of Troy "Duane Roller has written a superb biography of Cleopatra VII. Accessible to the general reader and yet free of sensationalism, this book provides a clear account of what can be historically known about the famous queen and the cultural context in which she lived."--Kathryn Gutzwiller, University of Cincinnati "Meticulously researched, compellingly written, and with judicious use of the sources, Roller's often breezy prose style makes for enjoyable reading, and his no nonsense historical approach, leaving all of the speculative myths, propaganda and legends to others, breathes some fresh air into a subject who is after all one of the greatest and most enigmatic figures of the ancient world, and who lived during perhaps the most momentous couple of decades in Mediterranean history. Roller restores to us both a sensible picture of the queen and a well-rounded sense of her life, her surroundings, and the culture and institutions that made Egypt in the last century BC so fascinating to Rome, and such a threat."--Joseph Manning, Yale University "Did we really need another scholarly life of Cleopatra after Joyce Tyldesley'sCleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt(2008)? Surprisingly, the answer is yes...Cleopatra reclaims her stature as a significant monarch of her era in this unsentimental corrective to the romantic legend. Recommended for all who study her era."--Library Journal "A straightforward, reader-friendly biography of this intriguing and powerful ruler...a definitive account of a queen of remarkable strength"--Publishers Weekly "A treasure trove of facts that show [Cleopatra] in a new light."--Austin American-Statesman "Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly...The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the 'constructed icon' of popular imagination."--The New YorkTimes Book Review "Thought-provoking...adds a dose of historical accuracy to the romance of her life."--The Weekly Standard "Compulsively readable."--Bookslut "The 'Women in Antiquity' series aims to provide 'compact and accessible introductions' to the figures it treats, and Roller succeeds admirably on this front. Short, well-written chapters trace the main events of Cleopatra's life, with stops along the way for the Egyptian backdrop; endnotes provide essential documentation; and a series of appendices provide useful reference material such as a Ptolemaic genealogy and discussion of controversial points." --Bryn Mawr Classical Review "Besides providing a compelling story and breathing fresh air into a heretofore two-dimensional caricature from history, Duane W. Roller's "Cleopatra" provides an interesting commentary on the attitudes still prevalent towards women who rule. It tells us that we still have a ways to go before there is true gender equity in the political realm."--Christian Science Monitor "A rich account of late Ptolemaic culture." --The New Yorker "Demonstrate[s] why feminist history is necessary." --The New Republic
Roller offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of....Cleopatra's Alexandria.
"Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly....The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the 'constructed icon' of popular imagination." --The New York Times Book Review
This is Cleopatra laid baer without any distractions: a good beginning for readers who know little about her and want to learn more.
This is Cleopatra laid bare without any distractions: a good beginning for readers who know little about her and want to learn more.
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Few personalities from classical antiquity are more familiar yet more poorly grasped than Cleopatra (69-30 BC), queen of Egypt. In this work, Duane Roller has written the definitive biography of the queen, not as a figure in popular culture or even in the arts and literature of the last 500 years, but as the last Greek queen of Egypt.
Long Description
Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous'yet more poorly understood'than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of her dynasty and kingdom. Roller's authoritative account is the first to be based solely on primary materials from the Greco-Roman period: literary sources, Egyptian documents (Cleopatra's own writings), and representations in art and coinage produced while she was alive. His compelling portrait of the queen illuminates her prowess as a royal administrator who managed a large and diverse kingdom extending from Asia Minor to the interior of Egypt, as a naval commander who led her own fleet in battle, and as a scholarand supporter of the arts. Even her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius'the source of her reputation as a supreme seductress who drove men to their doom'were carefully crafted state policies: she chose these partners to insure the procreation of successors who would be worthy of herdistinguished dynasty. That Cleopatra ultimately lost to her Roman opponents, Roller contends, in no way diminishes her abilities. "Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly....The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the 'constructed icon' of popular imagination." 'The New York Times Book Review "A rich account of late Ptolemaic culture." 'The New Yorker "Offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of the (remarkably vigorous) intellectual life of Cleopatra's Alexandria and the structural instabilities of the late Ptolemaic state." 'Times Literary Supplement "Besides providing a compelling story and breathing fresh air into a heretofore two-dimensional caricature from history, Roller's 'Cleopatra' provides an interesting commentary on the attitudes still prevalent towards women who rule." 'Christian Science Monitor
Main Description
Few personalities from classical antiquity are more familiar yet more poorly grasped than Cleopatra (69-30 BC), queen of Egypt. The subject of a vast repertory of post-antique popular culture, Cleopatra is generally thought of as an unfit ruler and wanton seductress--an image first created by Roman propaganda. In fact, she was an accomplished diplomat, administrator, naval commander, linguist (she was probably the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn Egyptian), and author, who, until her very last years, skillfully managed her kingdom in the face of a deteriorating political situation and increasing strength and hostility from Rome. The fact that the wealthy and strategically located kingdom of Egypt held out so long against Roman conquest is due largely to the formidable skills of its last Ptolemaic ruler. InCleopatra, Duane W. Roller provides the definitive biography of the queen, not as a figure in the arts and literature of the last five hundred years, but as the last Greek queen of Egypt. In addition to providing an engaging narrative of the queen's life, the author carefully contextualizes Cleopatra in the revolutionary events of the first century BC. He highlights the important heritage of the Ptolemies, rulers in Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great three hundred years earlier, and the growing involvement of Rome in the Eastern Mediterranean, which culminated in Octavian's defeat of Cleopatra and annexation of her kingdom in 30 BC. Roller also considers Cleopatra's various predecessor queens, who are often ignored but were fascinating personalities in their own right, and her descendents: although Cleopatra was seen as "the last of the Ptolemies" her daughter and grandson ruled in Africa for another 70 years. The result is the most complete and authoritative portrait of the life and times of this perennially fascinating figure.
Main Description
Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous - yet more poorly understood - than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of herdynasty and kingdom. Roller's authoritative account is the first to be based solely on primary materials from the Greco-Roman period: literary sources, Egyptian documents (Cleopatra's own writings), and representations in art and coinage produced while she was alive. His compelling portrait of the queen illuminates herprowess as a royal administrator who managed a large and diverse kingdom extending from Asia Minor to the interior of Egypt, as a naval commander who led her own fleet in battle, and as a scholar and supporter of the arts. Even her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius - the source ofher reputation as a supreme seductress who drove men to their doom - were carefully crafted state policies: she chose these partners to insure the procreation of successors who would be worthy of her distinguished dynasty. That Cleopatra ultimately lost to her Roman opponents, Roller contends, in noway diminishes her abilities.
Main Description
Few personalities from classical antiquity are more famous--yet more poorly understood--than Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt. In this major biography, Duane Roller reveals that Cleopatra was in fact a learned and visionary leader whose overarching goal was always the preservation of her dynasty and kingdom. Roller's authoritative account is the first to be based solely on primary materials from the Greco-Roman period: literary sources, Egyptian documents (Cleopatra's own writings), and representations in art and coinage produced while she was alive. His compelling portrait of the queen illuminates her prowess as a royal administrator who managed a large and diverse kingdom extending from Asia Minor to the interior of Egypt, as a naval commander who led her own fleet in battle, and as a scholar and supporter of the arts. Even her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius--the source of her reputation as a supreme seductress who drove men to their doom--were carefully crafted state policies: she chose these partners to insure the procreation of successors who would be worthy of her distinguished dynasty. That Cleopatra ultimately lost to her Roman opponents, Roller contends, in no way diminishes her abilities. "Roller tells his tale smoothly and accessibly....The resulting portrait is that of a complex, many-sided figure, a potent Hellenistic ruler who could move the tillers of power as skillfully as any man, and one far and nobly removed from the 'constructed icon' of popular imagination." --The New York Times Book Review "A rich account of late Ptolemaic culture." --The New Yorker "Offers a superb panorama of the society and culture of late Ptolemaic Egypt, with vivid sketches of the (remarkably vigorous) intellectual life of Cleopatra's Alexandria and the structural instabilities of the late Ptolemaic state." --Times Literary Supplement "Besides providing a compelling story and breathing fresh air into a heretofore two-dimensional caricature from history, Roller's 'Cleopatra' provides an interesting commentary on the attitudes still prevalent towards women who rule." --Christian Science Monitor
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Cleopatra's Ancestry and Backgroundp. 15
The Ptolemaic Heritage and the Involvement with Romep. 29
Cleopatra's Youth and Educationp. 43
Becoming Queen (51-47 b.c.)p. 53
Consolidating the Empire (47-40 b.c.)p. 69
The Peak Years (40-34 B.C.)p. 89
The Operation of the Kingdomp. 103
Scholarship and Culture at the Court of Cleopatrap. 123
Downfall (34-30 B.C.)p. 129
Epiloguep. 151
Appendices
Outline of cleopatra's life and careebp. 159
Genealogy of the later ptolemiesp. 163
Cleopatra's motherp. 165
Was cleopatra a roman citizen?p. 167
Some ancient literary descriptions of cleopatrap. 169
The iconography of cleopatra viip. 173
Abbreviationsp. 185
Notesp. 189
Bibliographyp. 219
Index of Passages Citedp. 231
Indexp. 239
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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